JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Spanish Town Infirmary, in St. Catherine, is being upgraded to deliver improved service to the residents.
  • Undertaken by the St. Catherine Parish Council, the upgraded facility should make living conditions more comfortable for the 126 homeless and indigent senior citizens at the institution, comprising 86 males and 40 females.
  • The parish council is also exploring the possibility of introducing a new day service for the elderly at the infirmary, which should result in revenue for the home.

The Spanish Town Infirmary, in St. Catherine, is being upgraded to deliver improved service to the residents.

Undertaken by the St. Catherine Parish Council, the upgraded facility should make living conditions more comfortable for the 126 homeless and indigent senior citizens at the institution, comprising 86 males and 40 females.

The parish council is also exploring the possibility of introducing a new day service for the elderly at the infirmary, which should result in revenue for  the home.

These engagements are consistent with the Government’s Effective Social Inclusion policy, focusing on enhancing social protection for the most vulnerable; and establishing fully developed local government structures.

Council Chairman and Spanish Town Mayor, Councillor Norman Scott, tells JIS News that phase one of the upgrading works, undertaken over 18 months, was completed recently at a cost of just over $20 million.

The project entailed the “comprehensive” renovation of three of the infirmary’s seven wards (two female and one male), as well as the laundry, bathroom, kitchen, and designated staff areas.

Also included were the installation of solar energy panels, water conservation fixtures, construction of a covered corridor, which now connects the main buildings with the newly refurbished all-male X Ward; repair of the roofs, floors, and windows, as well as painting of the buildings.

The Mayor informs that special ramps were also constructed to enable access to all facilities by physically challenged residents, particularly those confined to wheelchairs.

He tells JIS News that the work was financed through $10 million provided by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, as well as allocations from the Council,

“The Council’s roads and works team was responsible for (executing) all the work that was done…so, we were able to save millions of dollars,” he notes.

This was complemented by the Spanish Town Hospital’s donation of 26 beds to the institution, the Mayor says.

Mayor Scott tells JIS News that the Council is currently targeting completion of the infirmary’s renovation in the shortest time possible.

He indicates that the remaining work, projected to cost upwards of $35 million, includes repairing the perimeter fence, and renovating the remaining wards, as well as an old chapel, a section of which is being targeted to facilitate the provision of day care service for the elderly.

This new feature, when it comes on stream, will entail the infirmary’s provision of supervised daytime accommodation, at a cost, for the elderly whose caregivers either work or have other engagements during the designated periods they would be required to attend to them.

Councillor Scott advises that the initiative’s development is being discussed with the Council’s Secretary-Manager, Michael Morris, and the infirmary’s Matron, Keisha Miller-Wain.

The Mayor tells JIS News that the Council has received an undertaking for funding support from one State agency.  “If we get that injection…I think within another eight months, we would have achieved the target of completing the entire renovation exercise,” he adds.

Councillor Scott expresses satisfaction with the quality of work undertaken so far, and advises that since the installation of energy and water conservation fixtures, the cost, which often exceeded $100,000, has been significantly reduced.

“We have been conserving…and I can tell you, and the Council’s Accounts Department will also concur, that our light bill and water bills (have) been cut in half,” he says.

Councillor Scott also highlights the role of several private and public sector stakeholders who have been assisting the infirmary.

These include: Food for the Poor, WISYNCO, the Seventh Day Church, the Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs of Spanish Town, and the Spanish Town Hospital, among others.

For her part, Mrs. Miller-Wain, who heads a staff complement of 69, welcomes the infirmary’s renovation, pointing out that she and her colleagues are “very appreciative and more comfortable,” as are the residents.

She also expresses gratitude for the various stakeholder inputs, as well as the involvement of residents of the community, who are “friends of the infirmary.”